Friday, 28 September 2018

A Trial in the Desert

After we did Hammerin' Iron II Gary & I had a quick visit to the Sudan. Gary has been reading a bit about the campaign and was keen to give it a go. He even made a rather nifty bust of General Gordon, that you can see lurking in the background of the previous blog posting. We only had a short time left of our game time, so I just threw some bits on the table, to give him and idea of how a game might work.

We used the "Redcoats in the Sudan" rules. I gave him a small brigade column and a couple of wagons, and said he had to march to the next oasis. I had a similar number of Mahdist rubs, concealed on the table.

Here's one of my units camped out by the oasis.

My Mahdists emerge over the hill top, and start the mad rush to overwhelm the British

Gary starts to deploy his units into a form of perimeter, and pulls back his cavalry screen. I reckon with some half decent die rolls I'll be able to get round the side and cut up his wagons.

As you can see he has anchored his left flank with a square, and covered the right with his horse.

Having had a so-so run of luck in Hammerin' Iron it all came good in this game for him. Decent dice rolls for activation points then devastating rifle volleys. Didn't miss a single shot, and the screw guns were devastating too.

Even the cavalry had a day of glory, cutting up a disorganised half strength Mahdist rub.

Which left my army completely broken and fleeing off the table in about 45 minutes.

I think Gary quite likes wargaming in the Sudan after that.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Any old (Hammerin') Iron II

Time for my monthly boardgaming day. Only today we did some table top wargaming instead. Gary is getting quite keen on naval games, so I put on some ACW Riverine action.

I have always loved this iteration of HI. I have played the new version on the hex mat, and it is a good game. However I love the cardboard hexagons and the slightly rough and ready feel to it all.

As a learning game we started with the classic Hampton Roads scenario. I got the Monitor (far end) and Gary got the Merrimac/Virginia.

Bit lighter on the sand banks than the scenario suggests, so I popped in a promontory to close the river up a bit.

After a bit of nifty manoeuvring I got in the first shot, and caused a fire on the Virginia. My main concern here was that this meant I was going to get a full broadside from the Reb Ironclad in the near future.

This duly happened and I took some damage. Luckily I survived a critical hit on the turret.

The Rebs quickly put the fire out. But the next time I fired I got another critical hit, and succeeded in knocking out the Virignia's engine room, marooning her mid-river, at the mercy of the river flow washing her down on to a river bank.

Win to Billy Yank's naval brother.

Having got the basics of play sorted, we moved up a gear. We tried the scenario where a fleet of mixed Union ships has to sail up river, and fight its way past a Reb blockade so they can support a land action.

I got the Rebs this time. Here's my fleet.

Gary has a bit of a mixed bag. Those Yankee ironclads with full broadsides use up a lot of points.

After turn one I've got 4 ships on, to Gary's two. My aim is to fight him as far up the table as I can, to stop anyone breaking past me and dashing off my table edge.

Having feinted to the left I'm now switching to the right to try and get several ships on the Sandusky, as she's a nasty looking monitor. I've had some new arrivals to cover my left, slowly steaming up the table.

I mis-estimate the movement distances, and it allows Gary to get local superiority on the Planter. The Dunwich has a heft punch at the front with one Heavy and one Medium gun.

The Planter succumbs. I think she was even rammed by the Dunwich, which all came as a bit of a surprise as it sank her outright and the Dunwich got away pretty much scot free.

I did succeed in hitting the Dunwich as she veered off across the sand bank, and got her to catch fire. Elsewhere my three ironclad rams start their slow, steady progress downstream, line abreast across the river.

The Dunwich put her fire out, as I was closing on her with the Drewery. Alas for me I got caught in a cross fire from the Signal, and I now caught fire.

The General Bragg had got a bit mixed up. Because she is a long ship she is difficult to turn, so I ended up ramming one of Gary's tiddlers by mistake. The self inflicted damage knocked out my engines (note yellow counter), so I was stuck there. Luckily for me in the overall picture Gary was rolling poorly to get his extra ships on.

Meanwhile on the sandbank the Drewery was blazing away nicely. Alas that's because she was on fire, not because of her gunnery.

The Manasas had done a lot of damage on the left side of the board, and finished off the Dunwich with a ram. As she backed water she was caught amidships by the Sandusky. She had been reduced to ramming as her gun turret had seized up and her guns were out of action (note brown counter). She turned out to be a better ram ship that monitor, and sunk the Manasas with a straight hit

On the other side the late arriving Yankee reinforcements were circling the General Bragg, who was hanging on, and inflicting surprising amounts of damage with her armaments. She has reduced the Cairo to one hex movement (note green counter) and the Sassacus can now only steer to the left (note blue counter). Okay, so she is on fire, but that just makes it all the more heroic.

As Gary's mission was to get 4 ships off my end of the table, and he was reduced now to 3, one of which could only go in circles, I won that one too.

As I said above, I do love this version of HI, and the model ships continue to be a delight. They are lovely little models and just the right size for this type of game. The rules can be a bit random, as young people would say, but that just adds to the fun of it all.

One of my all time favourites.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Colouring some Celts

So next year the SOA Battleday is Telemon a Republican Romans v Celts battle. The Celt army included a goodly number of naked warriors, and I don't have any of them in my current collection. Just lots of Airfix Ancient Britons.

Luckily over the last few years a WD friend, Tim, has been off loading bags of his "I'll never get round to them" 20mm plastics on me. One of these included some Italeri Gauls. These are quite nice, and, despite having a limited number of poses, include at least one naked warrior. In addition some of the bare chested figures are wearing trousers that are quite tight, and with a bit of carving round the ankles and application of thick paint can easily be mistaken for men in a state of undress.

The carving is quite delicate on the figures, and they are really well done, - nicely proportioned in decent poses. The shields are separate, so you get added variety because you get two shield designs. The javelin men have had their plastic weapons replaced by pins as usual.

I picked up another couple of boxes of these in my haul from Hereward at Peterborough. That also included a set of Hat "Carthaginian Allies", which have amongst their numbers two naked Celt poses, so that added some more variety to the pile to be painted.

With all of that together I have another 5 units all undercoated and ready to paint. As these will now form my "Fast Warbands", being 3 figures on a 60mm x 30mm base. Hopefully that'll be enough for the refight.

With the advent of these units I will probably rebase a lot of my Ancients Brits to make them "Solid Warbands" with 4 figures on a 60mm x 20mm base. That should make some space in my "Celtic Warband" storage boxes.

Looks like I'm going to need another pot of flesh paint, however.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The Bridges of Cropredy

Following our epic refight of the Battle of Marston Moor I turned my attention to the southern campaign, and had a look at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge in the summer of 1644.

This is an awkward one. The armies don't line up and face each other, and the battle is fought in a rambling fashion over a large area, mostly by cavalry. On the other hand I was aware that the battle had been re-fought using the "Victory Without..." rules at COW many years back, so it must be possible, right?

My first call was the Nugget reports on the original COW game, and alas, they were not much help. Other than to let me know that the battle was an awkward one to fight.

I had to adjust the battlefield a bit as I wanted to use the squares again. I also modified the movement rules, increasing the distance units covered. Otherwise we'd have been there all night before anyone hit anyone (a problem the game at COW had I think). Unfortunately I probably over did it a bit.

This is the set up. The King's Army of Oxford has been playing cat and mouse with Waller's smaller army, and has got itself strung out as the Vanguard rushes off to the top of the picture, across Hay's Bridge to try and run down some Parliamentarian forces.

Seeing that this has evened up the numbers a bit Waller launches a pincer movement across two crossing points to pinch off the trailing units of the Royalist Army.

Waller and his cavalry brigade are at the bottom, just getting ready to cross the Cherwell at Slat's Mill. In the centre left his number two, Middleton, is ready to cross at Cropredy Bridge and accompanying ford, with the bulk of the army. He has to seal off the split in the Royalist forces by taking and holding Hays Bridge, and then combine to destroy the trailing units.

The game opened with Parliament rushing the dragoons defending Cropredy Bridge and ford, sweeping them away...

...Hazelrigge's Horse pursued them towards Hays Bridge.

The rest of Middleton's force burst across the river, and rushed for the higher ground. Out of shot, Waller's force was more cautious as it crossed the ford by the Mill, and tried to negotiate its way up the steep slope, against the grain of the ridge and furrow fields.

The Royalist column continued to head for Hays Bridge, but a couple of cavalry brigades wheeled off to provide cover.

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of this picture. Hazelrigge's men (centre of the picture)  managed to get up on the ridge line quicker than anyone expected (told you I got the move distances wrong), but the Royalist horse reacted quickly and turned to face.

Much to everyone's surprise the Royalist horse broke, and were pursued past their surprised foot. By this point two Royalist commanders had been unhorsed and captured, but I forgot to take pictures.

The Parliamentarians also had another win a bit further south, and that surprise rendered the unit next to them "Unsteady". So far Waller's plan was going much better than it did historically.

Waller's problem was that he was struggling to get his horse up the steep hill near the camera. Nothing was stopping the onward march of his foot across the table, however.

Eventually they burst up onto the ridge line, breaking their opponents at the cost of Waller falling off his horse.

Alas for Middleton he was unable to get his dragoons to Hays Bridge in time, and elements of the King's forces were able to return.

This prompted Richard, as Middleton, to start to form a defensive position with his foot to counter the threat.

Phil was rushing his cavalry across the river as quickly as the bridge would allow.

Meanwhile Astley had formed his foot into a hedgehog as the cavalry melees swirled around him.

At the bottom of the picture a very confused cavalry melee has some Parliamentarian horse broken by their Royalist opponents...

...who are shortly charged in the rear by some other Parliamentarian horse such that both units flee across Cropredy Bridge together, heading for Banbury and screaming "all is lost".

The Royalists were now holding Hays Bridge very securely.

Middleton is now sort of trying to conduct a retreat back to Cropredy, but he keeps changing his mind.

The Royalists are now firmly positioned on the hill in  front of Wardington. Scrappy cavalry melees are taking place all over the board, with units being caught in the flank and rear as local superiority occurs.

As night fell the Royalist counter attack had stopped the Parliamentarians, who were now certainly falling back from their high water mark. Waller has inflicted significant damage on the Royalists, but at a cost that has also weakened his army. Probably a better result for him than historically, however.

The game proved challenging but did provide an evening's entertainment. I had identified a number of the issues that would occur, but unfortunately didn't get all the fixes right. More work needs to be done to get it right, if I was to play it again.

The rules may have run their course. They have proved a useful tool to get real battles on the table top, but their limitations are becoming clearer. They work best if you use playing card activation most likely, and for a multiplayer game that just slows it down to much. The hand to hand rules are really too much of a blunt instrument with massive amounts of luck in them.

Where we go next, I'm not sure. The figures used for this battle were actually painted as the King's Army at Oxford and Waller's Army, but because of the figure scale I didn't get most of the foot regiments on the table. The units were painted as one base equals 50, but the figure scale here is 1 base equals 200. I want to use more of them in a more detailed and involved system. Phil is keen on Advanced Armati, and that does provide a good game. I think for my own peace of mind I have to look at the whole thing from scratch and see where I get to.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Back to Peterborough

How quickly a year comes round. Or at least it seems so some times. This Sunday we were back in "The Cresset" in Peterborough for the Hereward show, which we attended last year for the first time.

Despite our fairly late confirmation we had a prime spot in the main hall. Due to Chris getting there early we even bagged an extra table so we could set up our favoured U-shape, backed by our banners.

Hereward isn't a big show, but has a good selection of traders and some excellent participation games. We did steady business all day but weren't overwhelmed. Funnily enough although the footfall was considerably lower than at either Partizan we were busier talking to people than we usually are there, and we played the 1460 game more too. And we sold more books and games. Make of that what you will, - suffice it to say, if you live within driving distance of Peterborough then I think you should support the show. We have precious little in the East Midlands area on the wargames show front.

There were some eye catching games. This big DBA Rome v Carthage using the Hat 54mm figures looked lovely although I think I've seen them elsewhere. It is fun to see figures I've got in 20mm plastic looking "all growed up".

Whoever did the armies swapped out the Hat 54mm elephants however, which is a pity as I quite like the originals.

The massed ranks of Republican Romans always look so well organised.

The armies did finally end up hitting each other, but I don't know the outcome.

Just across from us was a Viking game using Playmobile figures and ships. They were full and busy all day with players of all ages, and everyone seemed to be having fun. They won an award for best game of some type. Well done to them for getting people to play games at a show.

The Battle of Malta game on a purpose printed cloth looked really effective. Apparently this is based on Google Earth with all the new build over laid with trees or rough ground. Looked really effective and I could forgive them having the playing aids on the table...

...but the presence of someone's lunch is pretty much unforgiveable.

Elsewhere MNG occasional, Graham S, and his missus enjoyed a game of 7TV, although in Graham's words "It's fun, but it always goes on too long".

Hereward doesn't have a bring and buy, but does have "Table Top Sales", where you can hire a half hour slot on an empty table. Chris A is feeling smiley because he's just picked up some 1/200 ACW river Ironclads at knockdown prices. As I was tied up on the stand he kept an eye on what was up, and sure enough the plastic figure guy from last year was back

This meant I was able to pick up most of the boxes of figures I regretted not buying last year. At 50p a box what's not to like, although alas the Republican Romans turned out not to have many figures in the boxes. However, as I was paying 50p for boxes of figures I paid £6 for a few weeks back it would be churlish to moan.

And then there was this. My Indian Mutiny armies have never had limbers, let alone an elephant drawn gun, so I had to have this, even though it cost me an outrageous £3.

So, all in all a very successful day.